Migration: new initiative by Merkel and Sánchez

Angela Merkel and her Spanish counterpart Pedro Sánchez have agreed to collaborate more closely on the issue of migrants from North Africa. Morocco is to receive more money for border control measures while Spain will take back individual refugees heading for Germany. Can Berlin and Madrid give the starting signal for a new refugee policy with the deal?

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Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

There is still such a thing as reliability

Deutschlandfunk is encouraged by the meeting despite few tangible results:

“Dreams don't grow in heaven. Spain's agreement to take back some refugees, which Merkel has strongly praised, is unlikely to have any major impact. ... Nevertheless, this is the 'win-win-situation' that the chancellor has avowedly set as a strategy for concerted action in Europe. The fact that partners like Spain are open for joint solutions may be a positive sign - and perhaps even persuade others to follow suit. ... The upshot: in times of great uncertainty in Europe there is also such a thing as dependability. That was the message of this weekend. It's not much, but it's a lot at a time when the supposedly United Europe is on very shaky legs.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Time to do battle against xenophobia

At the upcoming EU summit in Salzburg Merkel, Macron and Sánchez will be outnumbered, La Vanguardia observes:

“Right now Merkel and Sánchez together with Macron lead the small group of European politicians who are willing to take a stand against the populists who have taken control in several European states. This group of countries working against xenophobia is, however, still in the minority. Consequently it faces a major challenge: the informal EU summit on 20 September in Austria, which holds the rotating EU presidency in the current semester and is one of the more combative countries when it comes to migration. There, Sánchez and Merkel will defend their joint proposal to strengthen cooperation with the countries of origin and the transit countries. This won't be an easy undertaking.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Rome must forge compromises too

Now it's crucial that Italy negotiate with its neighbours, diplomat Stefano Stefanini warns in La Stampa:

“Like the previous deal with Turkey, the agreement between Madrid and Berlin bears Angela Merkel's signature. Immigration touches on deep domestic policy problems. Banging with your fist on the table in Brussels is part of the pantomime. The game is being played out in the capitals. For sure, it was important for Italy to raise awareness of the problem in the EU. But now it's time to get down to business and negotiate with those countries that are directly affected either because of their geographic proximity or because they are destinations for migrants: first and foremost Germany, France and Austria. Yes, the negotiating must be tough, but the main thing is that we negotiate.”